Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of State: Comments/ Discussion Questions

I apologize – I am way behind it, I know, but I didn’t have a chance to post my comments/questions before, in spite of doing the readings, so within the next week I will be making up for that... Sorry for inconvenience!

For some reason, Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of State remained neglected in the discussion thread. But from my perspective, it does deserve some attention.

In this work Marx criticizes Hegel for “uncritical mysticism” [p. 149]. More specifically, he expands on this general point along several lines by stressing the following errors by Hegel:
- inversion (of real relationships and appearance, subject and its predicate, etc.). E.g., “the condition is posited as the conditioned, the determinator as the determined, the producer as the product” [p. 63];
- application of a pre-existing logic to an object, instead of deriving the logic from the nature of this particular object [e.g., p. 69, 70, 73, 159];
- simple empirical foundations being masked by a mystifying philosophy resulting in no gain in meaning, with the ‘old’ meaning simply changing its form (i.e. acquiring a philosophical form, getting its ‘approval’) [99];
- uncritical attitude towards reality: Hegel measures “the Idea by what exists”, instead of measuring “what exists in accordance with the Idea” [117].

Now, what can we say about Marx himself. His own work is obviously consistent with his criticism of uncritical attitude, and by turning his attention to the real subject of historical development – man – he seems to solve the problem of inversion, too. But can we make the same statement about the mystification claim? Marx himself quite often puts his argument in a dialectical form, from his early to the late writings.

Hence, questions:

1. What does Marx actually criticize in Hegel – in practice, i.e. in Marx’s own work: uncritical attitude only, or mysticism as well, in which Marx himself seems to lapse?
2. What is the place of pre-exiting logical syllogisms, concepts, and dialectical figures in Marx’s own theory: are they a matter of presentation without a gain in meaning, a yardstick to measure the logic of argument, or something else?
3. How can one derive logic “from the nature of a particular object”? How should one think and go about it?


Xiao Jiang said...

Excellent Question - How can one derive logic from the nature of a particular object? I think this is an extremely important and difficult question but by answering it, its fruit lies in the various implications on economics methodology. Clearly, the first thing needs to be worked on is the definition of "nature" in Marx. Recently, by chance, I came across an essay written by Martin Heidegger on "nature" in Aristotle's Physics which I find a tons of inspirations from regarding to your question. However, it is a very difficult essay because he flooded it with ancient Greek and German vocabularies. Maybe we should try to work through this essay together sometime. I believe some very good and interesting research projects might spring out of it.

Hasan said...

The relationship between Hegel and Marx seems to has been the subject of very hot debates..I am not very familiar to Hegel's original works..But, find the piece of Althusser (On Young Marx) on this subject very interesting. It is very provacating but worth reading.

It would be great to have more discussion on this subject..
Did Marx simply turn Hegelian theory upside down as Engels wrote once?

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